(Excerpted from an American Legion speech)
Every crisis has new heroes. During the 9/11 attacks, they were the first responders running into burning and crumbling buildings as others ran out. Now, during the Coronavirus pandemic, the most visible heroes are the health care professionals, who are saving others and risking their own lives while doing so.
These heroes have much in common with the people that we honor today – America’s fallen veterans. They are men and women who have sacrificed their own lives so others could live. They are both elite and ordinary. They are elite in the sense of character. Giving your life so others could live is the ultimate definition of selfless.
They are ordinary in the fact that they represent the diverse fabric of our country. They are rich and poor, black and white, male and female. They come from every ethnicity and background. In short, they looked like anyone of us.
As we celebrate the selfless and untiring performances of the healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, it brings to mind the military medics, doctors and nurses who sacrificed their lives while treating others on the battlefield.
Approximately one million men and women of the U.S. military have lost their lives in defense of our nation since the founding of this great republic.
Not all have died from enemy fire. Some have died from diseases that have too often festered around war zones. Often times, deaths from disease and accidents outnumbered casualties caused by enemy weapons.
Even when the enemy is an invisible virus or a microscopic germ, the sacrifices made are just as meaningful. The U.S. military has already lost servicemembers to covid-19.
This Memorial Day as we continue to honor those who fell for us in battle, let’s also pause to remember those who have also sacrificed their lives while serving others.
May God bless them and may God bless you for remembering them here today.